BELGRADE — Residents in Belgrade say they have wanted an aquatic center in town for years now. Due to the city's growth, that wish is finally being granted. The only question is where to put it and how to pay for it.
Kayla Watson has lived in Belgrade for three years with her two-year-old daughter Adeline who loves to be active.
"It's winter nine months out of the year, so it would be great to have an indoor pool here,” said Watson. “We love going to the water and we actually come to the splash pad here in Belgrade.”
But once the splash pad closes, Watson and her daughter have to travel to the Bogert pool in Bozeman or the Chico Hot Springs to swim. She says sometimes they drive all the way out there and those places are closed.
However, this problem might be solved for Watson soon, according to Belgrade City Manager Neil Cardwell.
“The big news that came out of our last council meeting is that we're really working on developing a parks and recreation district,” said Cardwell.
He said building an aquatic center in town is the driving force for the project.
“This has been going on for twenty years with different groups trying to get a pool in Belgrade,” said Cardwell.
He said due to population growth in town they are now able to support a project like this, but a big problem remains:
“We know that in order to do this, we need to be looking bigger than just the aquatics piece,” said Cardwell. “One of the biggest issues is where do we put it?”
Cardwell said they have their eye on an 80-acre lot of land, owned by the state. He said the good news is no one has bid on it, but the bad news is that the state can't hold it for them. The asking price is $65,000 an acre.
“We know what it would cost for taxpayers in the Belgrade high school district,” said Cardwell. “That’s what we're proposing.”
About $50 million to construct it and acquire the land.
“That equates to about 15-20 dollars a month for the average homeowner,” said Cardwell.
He said the next step is to seek input from the public within the next month.
I just want a place for people with disabilities to go to and enjoy the water,” said Watson. “I’d like to see some indoor sports, definitely a safe walking trail, and affordable prices.”